These have been good times of late for the crane barons. Never before have so many of their towering iron creatures
been summoned to our city by the folks who make the dirt fly.
The giant cranes line the horizon as symbols of Dallas’ building boom. Some say they also clutter our views of the
skyline and ruin our sunsets. But to a still-growing city, the industrial dinosaurs are a necessary evil. Without
them developers simply could not build high-rise buildings. With arms that reach 244 feet, the cranes, which weigh
from 36,000 to 38,000 pounds and lease for about $8,000 a month, are used to haul concrete, forms and equipment to
the top of high-rise structures. Construction companies are so dependent on the steel birds that crane companies
have repair technicians on 24-hour call, because when the crane breaks down, the construction crews go on extended
We hear them jokingly called “the Dallas city bird,” but the cranes have no local origin. All of them are
manufactured in Europe, where developers have long been concerned with limited space and the need to build up, not
out. Now that land prices are skyrocketing in Texas, our builders are increasingly reaching for the sky.
Emscor Inc., American Pecco and Moody-Day Inc. are the main tower powers in Dallas. Emscor and American Pecco are
Houston-based and Moody-Day is a Dallas company owned by Dallas Mavericks owner Don Carter. All the leased tower
cranes currently come in four colors-red, white, yellow and blue-and the manufacturer of each crane can quickly be
identified by color.
“About three years ago we saw the writing on the wall-that Dallas was going to be a real good market,” says Johnny
Mapp, regional manager of Emscor Inc., a company with 21 tower cranes dotting the Dallas skyline. “It was about
three years ago when Dallas geared up that the rest of the country slowed down.”
Mapp says that as late as 1970, there was only one tower crane in Dallas. About 60 of the giants stand in Dallas
“Dallas is as steady with cranes as any city in the country right now,” says John Hors-man, an official with
American Pecco’s Dallas office. “We’re probably averaging about 20 cranes in the area. We’ve had up to 26 cranes
here at one time.”
The crane people say they aren’t worried about growing fears of overbuilding in Dallas. “We don’t see any slowdown
in the near future,” says Emscor’s Mapp. “Oh, things might slow a little in buildings 20 stories or more, but we
don’t see any slowdown at all in mid-rise buildings, which are from six to 10 stories in height.”
In Mapp’s business it’s hard to keep the upturns and downturns a secret. “Let’s face it, when the boss comes to town
you can’t bluff him on how you’re doing,”
The Dallas Dozen
We salute the city's most important players in 2011. They made a difference and inspired others to do the same.
By Jeanne Prejean
Souvenir of Dallas
"The Mighty, Mighty Hands of Mayor Tom Leppert"
By Kathleen Crist